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Romney’s Tax Returns Are None of Our Business

Mitt Romney, ever-under-attack from various people or groups, is facing yet another issue that could hamper his bid to become the president of the United States.    According to www.examiner.com, an unidentified group apparently illegally entered PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Tennessee office and hacked into their computer mainframe, accessing all of Romney’s 1040 tax return forms.  This criminal group has publicly announced that it is holding Governor Romney’s private tax documents hostage and are demanding $1 million in Bitcoins (an extremely difficult currency to track) or else they will release the information in these documents to the public.

Releasing tax returns is not a requirement. | Photo by Taylor Sanger/The Minaret

Even if Governor Romney chose to pay the ransom, his payment would not guarantee the return of his personal tax records.   According to http://www.venturebeat.com, the group claims that it will also be accepting offers from other people or groups that may wish to obtain these records. If someone else offers a higher ransom than Romney, the  hacker group claims it will turn the records over to the highest offer.  Obviously, the group has committed several felonies and is much less than honorable, so there is no reason that Romney should take them at their word.  He might well pay the money and the hacker group might still turn the documents over to those who would act less than honorably and release the private records to the public, or they might release it themselves.

As a citizen of the United States, I condemn the foregoing criminal acts. I specifically renounce  any effort to gain unjust enrichment from the theft and misappropriation of a another citizen’s private tax records.  This is simply wrong on the most basic level.  Sure, Romney may not have chosen to release as many of his tax records as past presidents and candidates have, but he shouldn’t have to; these are private records.  The election laws require that a number of personal documents be released when running for the presidency. Governor Romney dutifully complied with these requirements, which included a significant number of his previous year’s tax returns.  Some past presidents may have released more or less.  The important point is that he complied with the rules, which balance the right of privacy with the needs of the public to know about the people running for the highest office in the land.  Again, the  essential thing to consider is that he made the necessary returns public and complied with the time-honored rules.

It seems that groups close to the Obama campaign have chosen to hound Romney for the release of much more than he is required by law or past practice to produce. Why? Is it because his tax records might reveal that he is the epitome of the success America offers all of its citizens?  Yes, Romney is extremely wealthy. His family represents the classic “rags to riches” American success story, and some groups and individuals are attempting to portray the hard work that produced his success as some form of obvious evil. I suppose the tax returns are supposed to represent some form of undeniable proof that he made money, perhaps a lot of money, while many Americans made either less money or perhaps no money. A question that also may rise to mind is, “So what?”  If true, is this not a good reason to either vote or not vote for him? He found success where others could not. Is this the kind of guy we want looking for success on our behalf, as our senior-most national leader?  I am just a college student, but it seems pretty obvious that it would be wise to select a successful man to lead America into what we hope to be a successful future.

Honestly, as an American citizen I am more inclined to wonder about the transparency offered by our current president. Within days of entering office, he signed several executive orders which directed those in government to make their work product and records transparent to the American people.  However, as to his own records, his own past, his own education and his own records of public office… well, they have not been so transparent.  He makes quite a bit of himself regarding his Ivy League education, but refuses to release his education records. Do these old records not reveal as much about the man as the old tax records of Governor Romney? Why the double-standard? Fair questions, I think! However, in abundant fairness, let’s put these questions aside for a moment and ask why does President Obama refuse to release his academic records? I believe it is because they don’t exist or because he was at the bottom of his class. These are questions that are not crucial when discussing the job he has done as president, but focus more on his integrity. He has held himself out as a powerful intellect. If his academic records indicate otherwise, it is a matter of integrity or in this case, lack thereof.

We as Americans ask much of our leaders. This should motivate them in turn to work harder in order to accomplish what “We the People” wish to be done. Right now, it appears we are diving deeper and deeper into our leaders’ private lives.

The question, I believe, becomes: Do we have the right to seek so much information about what the typical American would never wish released to his brother citizens, even if he was running for high public office? In my opinion, I believe Governor Romney should not have to release these records. It is not a requirement, thus we cannot demand this of him.

On the one hand, we might think it reasonable to probe into every aspect of our political leaders’ lives. Of course, it is vital to know as much as possible about the people making the decisions for us because these decisions will undoubtedly affect our lives as American citizens.

  On the other hand, we as citizens cannot be so hypocritical as to condemn a man based on his refusal to release information that we ourselves would never release. Christian Sprinkle, a sophomore majoring in international and cultural studies at UT believes, “A man should never judge another man on a choice that he himself would also make.”

Whether the information sought is held by the incumbent or those who challenge Romney, the question is the same. I used the issues regarding the president’s academic records to frame the issue, and not to be disrespectful to the high office that he holds. I respect him because he is my president, fairly elected within the rubric of our constitutional framework. Moreover, I pray for his success on a frequent basis E Pluribus Unum, “out of many, one.” However, I submit that there may be a bit of hypocrisy at play here if we do not apply the rules evenly to those on both sides of the line.

Richard J. Whitaker can be reached at richard.whitaker@spartans.ut.edu

23 Comments on Romney’s Tax Returns Are None of Our Business

  1. nnnnnmmmmmm

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  2. sfsf

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  3. heloodf sdfns ;l

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  4. just saying // February 12, 2013 at 7:44 am //

    “Transparency in Government”???? Now, that is laughable. Going after Mitt’s tax records is like demanding Obama unseal his school records. It means/meant nothing. “Transparency in Government”- hahahahha

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  5. This whole article was laughable. What happened to transparency in government? The fact that they are unwilling to release his tax returns should be troubling to both Republicans and Democrats.

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  6. Citizen Proofreader // September 15, 2012 at 8:40 pm //

    Dear Rob,

    I thought I’d take the time to proofread your comment, so that you may improve your writing and rhetorical ability.

    “I find it very interesting that many of those who criticize this excellent article, do so on the basis of the writer’s education level or his extreme position.” Your comma here is unnecessary.

    “I noted that the gentleman…” Do you mean noticed? Noted would mean that you’ve previously written about the gentleman.

    “The gentleman . . . made to glaring gramatical errors…” Spellcheck: try “grammatical.” Also, by “to” do you mean “two”? If so, your argument is damaged by the resulting irony. If not, it is just unnecessary.

    “Typical leftest!” I’m sure you mean “leftist” here. One cannot be a typical “leftest,” though one could be the leftest leftist.

    “Stellar effort!!!!” Despite using too many commas, I agree that your comment is a stellar effort, but a little more concentration would serve you well. Good luck with your future nonsensical rants.

    Sincerely,
    Citizen Proofreader

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  7. I’m not the one passing myself off as a writer worthy of publication or an editor making that decision…

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  8. I find it very interesting that many of those who criticize this excellent article, do so on the basis of the writer’s education level or his extreme position. Laughable. I noted that the gentleman (I use the term loosely) who urged the University to find authors who can write made to glaring gramatical errors within his own comment. Typical leftest! Ha Ha! To the author, give us more like this!!! Stellar effort!!!!

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  9. When I saw the headline of the article I assumed it was going to be a satirical spoof. What potential voter with any sense would not wish to see the tax returns of a presidential candidate widely accused of playing loose with US tax laws and hiding millions in foreign banks? But no, it was a rambling, rather incoherent defense of the indefensible.. Still, it did provide some good laughs.

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  10. I consider Governor Romney to be a very smart man. Furthermore, he has been running for President for a very long time. Therefore, he is well aware that when one decides to run for President, your life and that of your family becomes public. That is a choice Governor Romney made. Obviously, he has opted to subject himself to ridicule, stress rather than releasing the tax returns. That explains he must have a lot to lose if he releases them. Right? If he cannot take the heat, he should ge out of the kitchen. That does not send a positive message simply because no person who wants to be president should be hiding his finances from the people/country He wants to Preside over. He has lost my respect and will not vote for him.

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  11. Monsieur G. // September 14, 2012 at 10:05 pm //

    Well it’s a public service to get this clear of a glimpse into the deluded mind of the Republican base. It’s rarely as as lucid in its sheer insanity as it is here. Their opposition to Obama is based on prejudice and conspiracy theories.

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  12. Wow. I guess they will publish anything these days. Its hard for me to imagine having my head in the same place as this writer. The bubble this guy lives in, is just… wow.

    Its not just that the entire “editorial” is written by a person wearing blinders, it seems to be written by a person who is completely unfamiliar with politics and the way things have been done for 60 years, but also a person who is completely unfamiliar with, well, how to write!

    My god Minaret, Ive never seen your paper before but raise your standards! If you are a far right wing college with far right wing ideals that fine. I know that its hard to find someone who still votes republican that is educated, but I mean, your a college right? At least you can find someone who knows how to write?

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  13. Actually, he damn sure should show his tax returns, all of them. Unlike the “revealing of the birth cirtificate”, showing off tax returns has been a tradition for some time now when it comes to presidential elections. A tradition, funnily enough, started by Daddy Romney himself.

    Also, to the writer, your massive and irregularly placed 4-spaced sentences scare me.

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  14. Dachshund Jackson // September 14, 2012 at 12:09 am //

    Romney rags to riches?…Right. Since I need not say more on that, I’ll just add that your critique of Obama’s educational records is baseless, and you seem to be overlooking the fact that Obama was the first African American president of the HARVARD freaking LAW REVIEW. You think Obama’s academic records don’t exist? I suppose there was a giant conspiracy on behalf of Harvard University and every student and professor that interacted with Obama during his time there, because they knew he would not only run for president someday, but become the first African American President of the United States. Personally, I’m a bit more moderate on the issue…

    Romney’s tax returns are a valid issue because of his international, tax-haven-seeking dealings. He need not have broken the law for his tax returns to reflect poorly on him: he may have taken advantage of his enormous privilege and resources in order to minimize his taxes in ways not available to the average person. Or he may have declared amnesty on his Swiss bank account. He could answer these questions in a second, but his refusal to do so is why the issue lingers. Fair questions, I think!

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  15. Mr. Romney, you have asked us whether or not we are better off than we were four years ago. (The answer for me is, yes.)

    But I would like to ask you the same question:

    Are you better off than you were four years ago?

    If so, please confirm by showing me your tax returns for the years in question.

    Release the tax returns!

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  16. Its the publics business if he wants to run for President. I do not see how anyone could support a person for this office who is so un-American he hides his money offshore to avoid paying his taxes. This is a civic responsibility.

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  17. The Right-Wind Tea Party stuff about Obama being a foreign exchange student and his school transcripts and social security number being “sealed” is very wacky.

    Apparently, Obama’s mother was prescient enough to have his birth announcement printed in a Honolulu newspaper, referencing the Hawaiian hospital in which he was born 47 years before he ran president. (If that were true, you would have to wonder why she named him Barack, seriously.)

    On a couple of the other conspiracy theories. Everyone’s school records and social security numbers are “sealed.” Duh!

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  18. Actually, if I was running for president I would release my tax returns just like all of the other presidential candidates actually want to WIN the election. Romney is not going to win. He probably wouldn’t win even if he did prove he’s not hiding anything on his tax returns. I hope the hackers really do have his tax returns and I hope they release them. I REALLY hope that they release them and find something that makes Romney ineligible for president and then Ron Paul can have the GOP ticket and we will actually have something to look forward to this election.

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  19. This is a shallow, immature letter from a Tea-Party brainwashed, and irrational student.

    He spouts all the Tea-Party extremist rants about Obama’s college records that are decades old, and of no pertinence to his presidency. Yet he says that it is none of our business to know how Mitt Romney handled his business financial matters, when Romney claims that the very reason he should be elected is the way he can handle business and financial matters. Do the have a logic class at UT? If so, Mr. Whitaker, you should sign up right away…you clearly need it.

    The fact of the matter is that Romney would not be taking all this heat about not doing what even his father said was right…release many years of tax records, because one or two might be a fluke.

    Clearly there are things in those tax filings that Romney wants to HIDE from Americans. Otherwise, he would release them immediately.

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  20. Is this editorial meant to be a joke? I guess you heard that Mr. Romney asked for ten years of tax records from his potential running mates.

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  21. If you want to be president We do need to know what you consider proper.
    I do not believe I want a president who puts his assets in Swiss Bank accounts and in Drug Lord Money Havens.
    If your premiss is your good to go becuse your a Master of Wallstreet Then I want the details

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  22. I think the real reason the issue of Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns won’t go away is because Romney himself has said that he will pay for his proposed massive tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans by eliminating tax loopholes.

    But which loopholes will Romney eliminate? HE REFUSES TO SAY. Which raises the obvious question: will he close the loopholes that HE uses to hide millions in foreign accounts and offshore tax shelters? Or does he only intend to eliminate deductions and credits that OTHER people use., e.g., the ones that middle-class families rely on?

    This is why Romney’s secrecy is so maddening: We have no idea if his tax plan is a shamefully self-serving one that keeps the loopholes used by millionaires like him while cutting the ones used by middle-class families, since he refuses to release his returns (even his 2010 one is incomplete) and since he refuses to say anything SPECIFIC about his tax plan.

    This seems to be his strategy: Just don’t say anything, don’t admit to anything, don’t divulge any specifics about anything–and hope that people just dislike the President enough to vote for anyone else.

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  23. Mitt should have to show the public every thing and any thing that is asked for. Each and every transaction the man has made tells some thing about his person as a whole.
    Tax returns will show and tell us alot about the man Mitt.
    If he has done nothing to be ashamed of then he should have no problem showing the documents.
    If he is streight with his taxes then many more will vote for him.
    Just show them.. What are you afraid of Mr.?

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